What makes a person what they are? Why does a person do what they do? Where does personality come from and how does it grow? These are some frequently asked questions when discussing the topic of personality. The latter of the questions is actually an answer in itself. Personality does originate from a specific point, and from then on it continues to grow and become exponentially more complex. This core point from which personality begins and the growth of it will be discussed in the sections to follow, but first we must look at certain assumptions that are commonly made when developing a personality theory. Assumptions The first of these assumptions concerns whether one believes that the behaviors, any type of action, a person exhibits are produced by conscious choices and decisions, also known as free will, or determined by forces beyond ones control.
I believe in the free will explanation, but not the type of free will commonly imagined. Humans do ultimately have the power to choose their actions, however the extreme influence of other factors, such as heredity, environment, and learned behaviors, may make it seem like a persons actions were predetermined. For example, if a starving people were put into positions where they could either eat a Subway turkey round placed in front of them or just sit there and stare and stare at it, common sense shows that these people would eat. However, it is possible that one person, like an anorexic, would just sit and stare at the sandwich. For that reason, it can be assumed that human beings do have free will, however the choices made are greatly impacted and seemingly determined by inherited basic needs, environment, and learned behaviors. This leads us into a second assumption, rationalism or irrationalism.
Do human beings operate primarily on the basis of intellect, or on the basis of impulses and passions? The answer is the latter theory. Going back to the Subway example, the most likely decision on whether or not to eat the turkey round would be based on an irrational impulse in ones subconscious. The basic physiological need of food has a profound influence on the given choice. But note that this is only the most likely response and not a definite one.
There is always the chance that a person could make a conscious, rational decision not to eat. Because a people ultimately do have some sort of a conscious decision over their actions, it cannot be assumed that behavior is solely determined by irrational impulses. The next assumption to be dealt with is one of the most argued and controversial of them all. Is human nature basically good or inherently evil? Naturally, most optimists would argue that people are born with a good nature, while other people of another persuasion would take on the opinion of an essentially evil disposition.
However, human nature is a term that should neither be associated with good nor evil. In contrast, human nature is based upon inherited basic needs, environment, and learned behaviors, not morality, which is itself a learned behavior. An example of this would be murder. In most societies today, it is considered wrong, or evil, to commit an act of homicide if you kill a person because, for the sake of argument, they were walking too close to your home. However, thousands of years ago it may have been a part of life to kill someone intruding near ones dwelling, looked upon as a display of territorial protection.
Morality, the virtues of good and evil, are completely dependent on the social group from which you have adopted most of your learned behaviors. Therefore, good and evil are nonexistent and should be looked upon as terms of social acceptability. The final assumption to be examined is normally a difficult one to address if one is trying to make a definite choice. It is the question of environment versus heredity. B. F.
Skinner would argue faithfully that behavior is based solely on environmental contingencies, while Sigmund Freud would just as strongly maintain that the role of heredity determines the personality of an individual. I, on the other hand, believe that both sides of the .